Microsoft Corp is poised to release a version of Internet Explorer (IE) for the Macintosh that will include new features not available in the version for the Windows platform. The company said the interim release of the browser, IE 4.5, will focus on ease of use as well as including additional functionality to improve performance […]
Microsoft Corp is poised to release a version of Internet Explorer (IE) for the Macintosh that will include new features not available in the version for the Windows platform. The company said the interim release of the browser, IE 4.5, will focus on ease of use as well as including additional functionality to improve performance and reliability. Jodi Ropert, group product manager for Microsoft’s Macintosh business unit, said the company made the changes having carried out extensive end-user research. She said 29% of those people buying Apple Computer Corp’s new iMac computer are new customers: We thought, wow, we’re the default browser for that machine. We want to make it easier for people to use the web. People are spending too much time fussing with the installation and set-up procedure. To that end, Version 4.5 is an interim release, and it’s only available for the Macintosh, she said. Version 5.0, the next major upgrade, will be available next summer. IE 4.5 is designed to be smaller, faster and more stable than the previous release, 4.01, which shipped with the Mac OS 8. In terms of performance, the boot-up time is twice as fast as the older version and the caching has been improved to speed up the downloading of previously-released pages by around 30%. To improve stability, the group carried out tests where it ran continuous URLs to see if the browser could cope without crashing. With IE.4.01, it could manage several hundred on average but with version 4.5, Microsoft has upped that to thousands and thousands, Ropert said. What that means to the user is that IE. 4.5 shouldn’t crash. The new browser has the same drag and drop installation procedure used in Office 98, as well as the same self-repairing technology. The latter guarantees that IE will self-boot, even if a set-up system folder gets deleted. Some additional new features, page holder and form auto- fill, only feature on the Mac version of the browser, Ropert said.. The former allows a user to dock a specific page in a small frame, then navigate through the links of the web site and quickly return to the original, docked page without having to click endlessly on the back button. The form auto-fill function allows a user to store his or her personal details once and then, by clicking on an icon, the software automatically enters the data into any form when required. IE 4.5 also has better printing facilities including print preview and the ability to be able to scale a web site so that it fits on one page when printed. Ropert said the company has also added integration with Sherlock, the searching tool included in Apple’s OS 8.5. The latter can be used to summarize web pages or to produce a list of similar sites to the one the user is at, for additional information. It also ranks the extra sites by relevance. IE 4.5 will be available in the first quarter of 1999. Version 5.0, due in the summer, will feature support for a range of industry standards including DHTML, CSS and DOM. Ropert said the aim of the release is to bring the Mac version in sync with the Windows IE browser.